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Let’s talk about LaMichael James today. The RB was productive at Oregon in Chip Kelly’s offense, ran in the mid 4.4’s at the NFL combine and has good vision (plus cutback ability) when you watch his tape. There are some questions about his durability and size (5-9, 195), but we are still looking at a prospect that should carry a third round grade heading into the draft because of his talent and matchup ability.
In terms of an ideal fit at the pro level? I look at how Darren Sproles is utilized within the Saints offense. Think edge runs, the screen and draw game, plus as a receiver in the slot running the option and angle routes (matchup issue for LB/SS).
Here is a clip of James in the open field vs. Tennessee:
What do we see here?
- Zone blocking up front. You will get this action out of the gun in the NFL and also in one-back looks (inside and outside zone). Give the RB options to press the edge of the defense or to look find cutback lanes.
- Lateral and vertical speed. Sure, this is only one play we are looking at, but finding prospects at the position that can cut back vs. over-pursuit to the football is key. Plus, check out the vertical speed once James can square his pads and get up the field.
- Strength and vision in the open field. In the NFL, you have to make defenders miss and break tackles at the second level. Lower body strength and balance.
You can find good talent at the RB position in the middle rounds of the NFL draft. And while James might not carry a grade as a high as Boise State’s Doug Martin or Miami’s Lamar Miller, he can find a home in today’s NFL offenses that will spread the field and attack pressure.
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